Oliver Twist: Whole Heart and Soul

Oliver Twist: Whole Heart and Soul

by Richard J. Dunn, Charles Dickens
     
 

As is so often the case with Charles Dickens's writing, characters and situations from his 1837-39 novel Oliver Twist seem to have found life apart from the text: little Oliver's asking for "more," Bumble's pomposity, Fagin's treachery, and the Artful Dodger's shenanigans have become standard literary and cultural reference points. Generations of readers have found… See more details below

Overview

As is so often the case with Charles Dickens's writing, characters and situations from his 1837-39 novel Oliver Twist seem to have found life apart from the text: little Oliver's asking for "more," Bumble's pomposity, Fagin's treachery, and the Artful Dodger's shenanigans have become standard literary and cultural reference points. Generations of readers have found different elements to savor - from the melodramatic alternation between sentimentality and terror to the fairy-tale plot to the cast of remarkable characters. And of course there's the novel's social implications: Dickens pointedly maintained in his preface to the book's 1841 edition that Oliver Twist was important precisely because of its realistic, uncompromising account of the harshness and cruelty of life in early Victorian England. In this engaging study of Dickens's sccond book (it initially appeared as a magazine serial), Richard J. Dunn uses the author's admission that he put his "whole heart and soul" into the novel's writing to explore the connections between Dickens's own adversity - having to work under wretched conditions in a blacking factory as a boy - and the dire and often life-threatening situations the bastard child Oliver must endure before, as Dickens put it, "trimumphing at last." Taking a controversial and timely subject - England's poor laws, whose debates in Parliament he covered as a court reporter - and a child as his hero, Dickens, Dunn contends, drew together two worlds: the destitute London slums that served as a breeding ground for criminal activity and the innocent world we associate with childhood. Dunn points out that Oliver's "progress" from dark world to light shows, almost paradoxically, that these worlds are linked and will always coexist, however secure one may feel in the latter. The colorful array of characters that either help along or hinder Oliver's progress Dunn analyzes in detail, but to the book's most controversial character, the sinister yet only-all-t

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805794267
Publisher:
Cengage Gale
Publication date:
02/28/1993
Series:
Twayne's Masterworks Studies, #11
Pages:
180
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.83(h) x 0.65(d)

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